Alison McGhee: A Self Portrait
Alison McGhee Revealed
About Alison McGhee
What is your birthdate?:7/8
Previous occupations:Unpublished writer, as opposed to published writer.
Favorite job:I always liked being a waitress.
High school and/or college:I went to Holland Patent High School in upstate New York, and I went to Middlebury College in Vermont.
Name of your favorite composer or music artist?:Too many! Brain exploding at very thought of selecting only one! Disengage! Disengage!
Favorite movie:My Life as a Dog.
Favorite television show:The Wire.
- Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
- A. Reflective, searching, busy, full of wonder and love
- Q. What is your motto or maxim?
- A. Here's what I put in my high school yearbook, and I do believe it's what I'd still put today: Walk slowly; all you can ever come to is yourself.
- Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
- A. Perfect happiness would be that first and only small cup of coffee, made with my camping drip filter into a mug I bought in Mexico (and which probably contains lead, something I prefer not to think about), into which I add a dollop of heavy whipping cream, and sitting in the dark in front of my Christmas tree conjuring the faces of the people I most love in the world. Since that describes my early morning today, I guess I was perfectly happy around 4:30 a.m. today.
- Q. What’s your greatest fear?
- A. That would be Doing A Headstand. Yep, I've been scared of that particular feat all my life, have never done one, and I've decided to come clean. So there you have it.
- Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
- A. Right here, right now.
- Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
- A. Batman, the only human superhero.
- Q. Which living person do you most admire?
- A. I admire my mother a whole bunch, and I always have.
- Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
- A. "Thick white china mug."
- Q. What do you regret most?
- A. Regrets are a waste of time. (That doesn't mean I don't have any.)
- Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
- A. To fly, using just my arms. Fly, fly, fly! Sometimes, when I dream, I'm swooping up and over mountain after mountain. How I would love to do that for real.
- Q. What is your greatest achievement?
- A. My children and my deep, lifelong friendships
- Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
- A. I have no flaws. I am a perfect human being. What, you don't believe me? C'mon.
- Q. What’s your best quality?
- A. I'm kind.
- Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
- A. Honeys, I'm stuck with being me, and I wouldn't change that.
- Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
- A. I can bend my hands up into strange, saucer-like formations. It's creepy.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
- A. The boy in My Side of the Mountain.
- Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
- A. Max, the boy who wore his wolf suit.
- Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
- A. Lying on the couch while my children bake me delicacies, clean the house, and write small songs of praise in my honor.
- Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
- A. Acting.
- Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
- A. Kindness, integrity and humor.
- Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
- A. Chinese dumplings, either pan-fried, boiled, or steamed.
- Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
- A. Long-Limbed Girl, by Nick Lowe. Hey Ya, by Outkast. Amazing Grace. If You Want Me, by Marketa Irglova. Prelude in E Minor, Chopin. Johnny Cash's cover of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. (That's six, you say? Hang on, I have 827 more to go.)
On Books and Writing
- Q. Who are your favorite authors?
- A. I cannot answer this question because my brain is so crowded with favorite authors that if I tried to write them all down my head would explode and then my desk would be even messier than it is now, not to mention that I would not be able to write any more books, so in my own self-interest I must decline.
- Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
- A. Goodnight, Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown. The Things They Carried, by Tim O'Brien. Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The Day to Day Life of Albert Hastings, by Kaylyn Devaney. The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger.
- Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
- A. Little House on the Prairie.
- Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
- A. Enjoy. Please, please, please, have fun.
- Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
- A. "You made me cry."
- Q. How did you come to write Someday?
- A. Late one night I stood in the doorway of my daughter's room, watching her sleep. And then I went down to the kitchen and sat at the table and wrote Someday in the form of a poem. Five years later, that original poem had re-shaped itself (okay, it was me who did the re-shaping) into a picture book.